Ogbonna: Our fans push us on

Angelo Ogbonna of West Ham United during the UEFA Europa League 2023/24 quarter-final first leg training session on April 10, 2024 in Rush Green, Englan. 

Angelo Ogbonna has long felt the love of the Claret and Blue Army but, even for the veteran Italy defender, Thursday night’s atmosphere at London Stadium for the second leg of our UEFA Europa League quarter-final against Bayer Leverkusen was something else.

The Irons gave the newly-crowned, undefeated, Bundesliga-champions a true scare with their intensity in east London, threatening to overturn a 2-0 first-leg deficit when Michail Antonio headed Jarrod Bowen’s cross home in the 13th minute.

Ultimately, despite being stretched to the limit, Leverkusen rode the storm and levelled on the night through Jeremie Frimpong’s last-minute goal, but Ogbonna says he and the team will take numerous positives into this afternoon’s trip to Crystal Palace.

Not least the backing of the fans, who Ogbonna felt had a huge part to play in Thursday’s front-footed performance.

We were unlucky on Thursday, but our standards were high and we have to keep them that way for the rest of the season

Angelo Ogbonna

“This Club is already big and our fans have always been famous because they are one of the best in the country,” the No21 explained. 

“They always support us. We lost 1-0 at Freiburg and won 5-0 here because the fans were behind us. The potential of the Club has always been big and it’s not something like we are talking [about] just now.

“We gave everything on Thursday. We were disappointed for the result, of course. Maybe we showed a little bit of respect for them in the first leg, but the second game was unbelievable.

“From the start we were on top and we deserved to get three goals in the first half. The energy, all the fans behind us, I think the togetherness was there.

“We were unlucky to concede in the end, but our standards were high and we have to keep them that way for the rest of the season.”

Angelo Ogbonna smiles in training

The rest of the season brings five tests in the Premier League as the Irons attempt to rouse themselves to secure a fourth straight season of continental football.

Following the trip to Palace, the Hammers face clashes against the likes of Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City, but for Ogbonna the most important game is the next one.

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“The target of the team is the [same level of] performance,” he added. “What we showed on Thursday was something really special.

“We’re focusing game-by-game and we’ll see at the end of the season because we don’t [want to] look too much forwards.”


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